Fri, Apr 02, 2010 - Page 11 News List

Taiwanese cartoon series an international success

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

A cartoon series developed by a Taiwanese company has made a splash in the international market and its developers are now preparing to test an online game derived from the TV series.

The Flash animated TV series Hero 108, co-produced by Taiwan’s Gamania Digital Entertainment Co (遊戲橘子), Moonscoop of the UK and Cartoon Network International of the US, premiered on March 1 in the US and Britain and later in Italy and Germany.

The series tells the story of how humans and animals were once friends, before an evil character named High Roller convinced animals otherwise. In its quest to end the conflict between the two groups, the young First Squad must take on High Roller and the Zebra Brothers.

The series, made up of 52 11-minute episodes, was inspired by the 14th-century Chinese novel The Water Margin. It uses state-of-the-art technology to appeal to a target audience of six to 11-year-olds.

The main characters and initial storyline were both crafted by Gamania and the series was produced in collaboration with Moonscoop and Cartoon Network International.

“We are now also developing a Hero 108 massively multiplayer online game [MMOG] and we’re planning to test it in the US in May,” said Sanvy Hsieh (謝春未), director of Gamania’s Animation Development Office.

In addition, Playmates Toys will produce an extensive product line based on the Hero 108 series, she said.

“This is a big step for us,” said Hsieh, adding that they are now discussing the possibility of creating other stories with Moonscoop.

Gamania’s efforts to go international with the cartoon series started five years ago, Hsieh said.

“Negotiations with the American team took a long time because of cultural differences,” she said at her office in Jhonghe City, Taipei County.

“For example, Western ideas about what a hero should be like differed a great deal from Eastern ideas,” she said

Ultimately, the teams created an animated series that has appeal worldwide, not just in Taiwan, she continued.

“This experience is very valuable for our future development work ... with the growth of the Asian market, there will be many future opportunities for Taiwanese animation,” Hsieh said, adding that enterprises with the best creative teams and strongest promotional power have a clear the edge.

The response to the series so far has been very encouraging and Cartoon Network has extended the time slot for the show, Hsieh said.

The series will be broadcast in Taiwan this summer, she said.

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